Publishing Is Rotten To The Core
Amazon is regularly slated for the way it manages its tax affairs. I have written extensively about this before, but, in short, Amazon is using common methods for minimizing its tax bills that are used by every major tech company, and many other multinational corporations too).
You can argue these loopholes should be closed (and I would agree, for what it’s worth), but these actions are legal. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the major publishers, and the global media conglomerates which own them, are doing the exact same thing.
Take Harlequin, for example. Harlequin doesn’t just use these corporate structures to minimize its tax bill. It has also used them to reduce the 50% digital royalty rate agreed in some of its initial ebook contracts to a paltry 3%. Harlequin is facing a class action suit because of this, but you won’t find coverage of that in the news media or outrage about Harlequin’s actions among publishing professionals. Read More…
How The Author Solutions Scam Works
The more you study an operation like Author Solutions, the more it resembles a two-bit internet scam, except on a colossal scale. Scammers work on percentages. They know that only a tiny fraction of people will get hoodwinked so they flood the world’s inboxes with spammy junk.
While reputable self-publishing services can rely on author referrals and word-of-mouth, Author Solutions is forced to take a different approach. According to figures released by Author Solutions itself when it was looking for a buyer in 2012, it spent a whopping $11.9m on customer acquisition in 2011 alone.
Author Solutions also needs to aggressively pursue new business because its existing customers don’t come back for more. According to figures released by CEO Andrew Phillips, Author Solutions and its subsidiaries have published 225,000 titles by 180,000 authors – an average of 1.25 titles per author. The lack of repeat business is in stark contrast to someone like Smashwords which has 310,168 titles from approximately 80,000 authors – an average of around 3.88 per author. Read More…
Why Is The Media Ignoring Author Exploitation?
The Amazon-Hachette dispute has caught the media’s attention. But what about the story the media refuses to cover? The media is more concerned with one-sided accounts of Amazon’s perceived actions – when no one really knows the exact nature of the dispute. The media is more concerned with what Amazon might do in the future, than actual author exploitation by the world’s largest trade publisher: Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House owns the world’s largest vanity press – Author Solutions – which is currently subject to a class action for deceptive business practices, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violation of business statutes in California, New York, and Colorado. The court papers cover the same ground that I’ve been blogging about for the Read More…
Author Solutions Scam Goes To Miami Book Fair
Another day, another Author Solutions scam in my inbox. Remember the Author Solutions book signing scam planned for The Word on the Street Festival in Toronto next month (to which the organizers are turning a blind eye)?
I suspected that the Word on the Street Festival wasn’t the only literary event that Author Solutions would be targeting, given that Author Solutions made $297,000 from the 2012 Word on the Street Festival. I was right.
The Miami Book Fair is a long-established, reputable literary festival (celebrating its 30th year) which has wheeled in some big names for this year’s event, such as Junot Díaz. Unfortunately, the Miami Book Fair is also allowing a terrible scam to take place at its event. Read More…
Word On The Street Festival Ignores Author Scam
I wrote a post last month about Author Solutions’ relationships with The Bookseller in the UK, and the Word on the Street Festival in Canada. Since then, I’ve been in touch with the editor of The Bookseller who has shared some positive news. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my exchange with The Word on the Street Festival. This post is from 8 August 2013. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s important to preserve these older posts on author exploitation and the comments remain open. To recap, last month I discovered a new Author Solutions scam – using their booth at a Canadian literary festival to get even more money from their customers. Read More…
Penguin Random House Merger Boosts Giant Scam
Defenders of the deal claimed that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions – a universally reviled vanity press which has been slammed by every watchdog in the business, and which is currently the subject of a class action suit for deceptive business practices.
Needless to say, all that has happened in the year since is that Penguin has aggressively expanded the operations of Author Solutions – a task that is a little easier when you can add the names of two historic publishing houses to your logo, and to your sales pitches.
As you can see from email excerpt below, AuthorHouse is trading off the Penguin Random House merger to try and hoodwink their customers into buying a massively overpriced YouTube advertising package that simply won’t sell any books. Read More…
Author Solutions Complaints Continue Under Penguin
Did you notice that skeevy self-pub racket, Author Solutions, is accumulating brands as quickly as it accumulates customer complaints these days?
It all started last July when Pearson bought Author Solutions, the parent company of dozens of self-publishing brands including iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford and Palibrio as well as media companies FuseFrame, PitchFest, Author Learning Center and BookTango.
Then Pearson (who owns Penguin) merged with Random House after purchasing Author Solutions. Author Solutions, in addition to running its aforementioned arsenal of brands, was then charged with running a new self-publishing imprint: Archway. Read More…
Simon & Schuster Sets Up Sleazy Vanity Press
Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation called Archway Publishing – contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions. We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers). This post is from 28 November 2012. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s important to preserve these older posts on author exploitation and the comment section remains open, as always. Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999. While the upper end of Read More…
Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers
Penguin’s parent company Pearson has announced the purchase of Author Solutions for $116m – news which has shocked writers, especially given Author Solutions’ long history of providing questionable services at staggering prices.
Author Solutions are the dominant player in the self-publishing services market – via their subsidiaries such as Author House, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford – and had been looking for a buyer for several months. According to the press release, Author Solutions will be folded into Penguin, but will continue to operate as a separate company. Penguin’s CEO John Makinson stated:
“This acquisition will allow Penguin to participate fully in perhaps the fastest-growing area of the publishing economy and gain skills in customer acquisition and data analytics that will be vital to our future.” Read More…